Three Tips for ‘lightweight’ projects

Large or expensive projects often have project managers, but smaller, shorter projects with just a handful of people on the team may not have anyone with formal project management ability. Here are a few tips for effectiveness in that situation:

1. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

24% of projects fail outright, but given a new project people typically like to get stuck in believing they’ll be successful. Perhaps they will but stats suggest that you should spend 20% of the duration of the project planning it. Seems counter-intuitive, but many mistakes are avoidable by thinking things through in advance. For a 3 month project, that means the necessary planning time is 12 days, that might feel like an unwelcome delay, but the impact on project effectiveness will be dramatic.

2. Pre-mortems

People love to be optimistic, a pre-mortem does the opposite. A post-mortem is looking at things after they have happened for success and failure. A pre-mortem considers that the project has failed (an assumption) and invites participants to look at why that’s the case. The assumption of failure frees people up to poke holes in the plan and think about a better outcome.

3. Communication

Most project failures are due to lack of communication, people don’t communicate enough and assume that just because an email has been sent it has been read. Just as in consumer marketing people need to see a message 3 times before they remember it, make sure you are repeating your message.

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